Wednesday, February 1, 2012

To Sweeten or Not To Sweeten?

According to Ayurvedic medicine, the taste of a food tells its purpose, and each taste has its place in balancing health. For example, bitter foods detoxify, while hot foods speed metabolism. Therefore, having sweet foods can be a benefit - to an extent.

Sweetness, according to the Ayurvedics, makes one feel comforted and contented. It can promote tissue growth, and is therefore beneficial to children, elderly or injured. We consider sweet foods to be nourishing and soothing. Most comfort foods are sweet.

But too much of a good thing can bring serious imbalances. The disorders of sweetness are heaviness, laziness, dullness, colds, obesity, excessive sleeping, cough, and diabetes. Scientifically, what happens with an overly-sweet diet is that the ingested sugars, which are sticky, begin to adhere to the proteins in our bodies. This is called glycation and is like being carmelized from the inside out. No wonder sugars cause a reduction in energy, immunity, metabolism and stamina!

If your purpose for being on this blog is to lose weight, reverse disease, ramp up energy or strengthen immunity, then you should be limiting your intake of sweet foods.

Most Americans eat way too many simple carbohydrates and high glycemic foods, even if they are limiting desserts and "cutting back on sugars." It is estimated that of the children being born today, half will develop diabetes during their lifetimes.

A visual clue that you may be pre-diabetic is whether you have belly fat. This is true because the more sugars you ingest, the more insulin you must secrete. Insulin is a hormone that also triggers fat deposits throughout the body core. While fat deposits on the face are a sign of thyroid imbalance, fat around the waistline is a sure indication of elevated insulin levels

Here's a another quick test you can do to determine whether you are eating too many sweets. Calculate your total fiber intake for an entire day. Compare that amount to the glycemic index (GI) of one meal.*  If your fiber is higher, you're probably okay. If your glycemic index is higher, then you need to replace your sweet foods with other tastes, such as sour, bitter, hot, or astringent.

Bitter foods are considered healing for many imbalances. They include leafy greens, which not only slow the release of sugar into the blood because of their fiber content, but also act as de-toxers. 

Sour foods, like citrus fruits, miso vinegar and fermented or cultured foods, increase enjoyment of a meal by stimulating salivation and increasing nutrient absorption. They retard a sugar rush.

Hot foods like chilies, mustard, garlic, onion and peppers, stimulate appetite and help cure obesity. They can improve circulation and purify the blood.

Astringent foods include cranberries, beans and pomegranates. These are anti-inflammatory and promote healing. Salty foods, such as sea vegetables, help retain moisture and act as anti-spasmodics.

We may have been conditioned to think that food is not good if it is not sweet, but we can re-condition ourselves to appreciate other tastes by including them more and more in our diet.

To a bitter, sour, hot, astringent, salty health,

*P.S. You can find fiber and GI calculators online. I used and

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